Bahraini medical centres and schools 'raided'

Activists say security forces arrested medical workers in retribution for treating protesters injured in the uprising.

    The Aali Health Centre in Manama is one of two medical facilities raided on Tuesday[Facebook]

    Security forces have seized at least eight health workers from two separate medical facilities in Bahrain, sources tell Al Jazeera.

    The Aali Health Centre in Manama was raided early on Tuesday morning, as shown in an image posted by an activist on Facebook. Medical staff working in the two centres were beaten and an unknown number were arrested.

    Human rights groups have accused Bahrain of arresting patients and medical staff suspected of taking part in protests, and sacking hundreds of public workers. Bahrain says it targets only those who committed crimes during the unrest in March.

    Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, a former member of parliament for Wefaq, the country's leading opposition group, told Al Jazeera that the families of medical staff who have been providing treatment to injured protesters were being arrested.

    "The attack is also against the families of the activists who were against the prevention of medical services in the crackdown," Mattar said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

    Medical staff were targeted because they had been keeping accurate statistics on the number of people injured or killed in the uprising, he said, information which the government did not want to be made public.
    "It is a way to hide the situation," he said.

    Educational institutions have also been targeted, he said, and as many as 10 schools had been raided since the crackdown began on February 14.

    Many students who had witnessed these raids told him that students were beaten, arrested and tortured while they were detained.

    Media stifled

    Al Jazeera also learnt on Tuesday of the arrest of five Bahraini journalists and a blogger over the past week.
    Faisal Hayat, a sports writer, and Haider Muhammad of Al Wasat newspaper, were still in prison as of Tuesday night.

    Hussein al-Ghadeiri, a reporter for Al Bilad, Nada al Wadi, who writes for Al Wasat, and Al Watan's Mona Al Nashaba were each held by police for some time between eight and 36 hours before being released. They said they had been beaten.

    At least 10 journalists have been fired from state-run newspapers, including the majority of those who had been arrested.

    A blogger who writes under the name Mahmood was also arrested several weeks ago and detained for about one day.

    "I'm happy to relate that they didn’t find anything indictable so they released me," he wrote on his English-language blog after his release.

    Ongoing repression

    At least 30 people have died since February 15, when anti-government protests erupted in Bahrain, inspired by the uprisings in the Arab world. Four opposition supporters have also died in police custody.

    Human rights groups say patients and medical staff are being arrested on suspicion of being protesters

    According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, a prominent opposition organisation, 1,041 people have been detained in relation to the uprising.

    Seven Bahraini protesters may face death sentences at a martial court this week over charges of killing two security men, a leading opposition activist said on Tuesday.

    The seven men are accused of "premeditated murder" of two policemen during clashes when security forces quashed the protests.

    The seven are Ali Abdullah Hassan, Qasim Hassan Mattar, Saeed Abdul Jalil Saeed, Issa Abdullah Kazem, Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim, Sadiq Ali Mahdi, and Hussein Jaafar Abdul Karim, according to Mattar, the former Wefaq MP.

    The verdict is expected on Thursday, and the prosecution has recommended death sentences.

    The trial of the seven defendants began on April 17, when the official BNA news agency said they were accused of committing voluntary homicide of public officials with "terrorist" intentions.

    Bahraini authorities say four police officers were killed after being struck by cars during the protests in the kingdom. They say 24 people were killed during the unrest, most of them demonstrators.

    Majority of Bahrain's population is Shia, but the kingdom is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty

    A Saudi-led Gulf force entered the country in mid-March, freeing up Bahraini security forces to crackdown on protesters.

    The Saudi government views the unrest as an Iranian plot to spread radical Shia ideology and destabilise the region. Yet there is some opposition to Saudi Arabia’s role in repressing the revolt within the kingdom.

    "Unfortunately, they are throwing their power, their authority and their leverage to maintain the status quo, and I don’t think it's going to survive in the future," Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, head of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

    "I tell you they have taken too many embarrassments during these revolutions. That’s not the way you build your own foreign policy."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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